South Carolina U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham urged a federal judge to kill a Fulton County subpoena seeking his testimony before the special grand jury examining potential criminal interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections.
In a filing with the U.S. District Court for South Carolina on Wednesday, lawyers for the Republican senator argued that the U.S. Constitution’s “Speech or Debate” clause shields Graham from answering questions about his conduct in the weeks following the 2020 elections.
A Fulton judge signed an order last week compelling Graham and six other Trump allies who live outside the state to travel to Atlanta in July or August to testify before the special grand jury. The judge ruled that all seven people were “necessary and material” witnesses to the Fulton investigation, which was launched in February 2021.
Graham’s subpoena, technically known as a certificate of material witness, alleges that he called the Georgia Secretary of State’s office twice in the weeks following the November 2020 elections “about reexamining certain absentee ballots cast in Georgia in order to explore the possibility of a more favorable outcome for former President Donald Trump.” Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger similarly interpreted his conversation with Graham.
Graham has long insisted that he did nothing wrong.
In their 13-page motion to quash the subpoena, Graham’s attorneys said the senator’s conversations with the Georgia Secretary of State’s office were relevant to his fact-finding and oversight responsibilities at the time as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Senator Graham did not inject himself into Georgia’s electoral process, and never tried to alter the outcome of any election,” Graham’s lawyers wrote. “The conversation was about absentee ballots and Georgia’s procedures.”
The attorneys also argued that the veteran lawmaker was protected by sovereign immunity given his role as a federal officer. They said that “no extraordinary circumstances exist for compelling his testimony” and that forcing him to appear at the Fulton courthouse would “inhibit — or even potentially prohibit altogether — Senator Graham from exercising his constitutionally prescribed duties in the Senate on behalf of the People of South Carolina.”
They asked for an “expedited” hearing to challenge the subpoena.
Judge Henry Herlong Jr. issued an order staying the subpoena’s execution until the court could rule on the matter. A hearing on Graham’s motion is scheduled for July 20 in Greenville, S.C.
A spokesman for Fulton District Attorney Fani Willis did not respond to a request for comment on Wednesday, but Willis expected to send deputies to the hearing.
Graham’s lawyers said they were told by Fulton prosecutors that the senator is not a target in the investigation.
Willis said her team has informed multiple people that they were the target of her investigation but declined to identify those people in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution late last week.